XL – Review.
on the bestselling retro styled Korg microKORG, its successor
the microKORG XL is an evolution of the original model
with many enhancements, in areas such as the sound engine,
playability and connectivity.
The new design is housed within a smart black textured plastic case with an
aluminium faceplate, which whilst evocating a sense of nostalgia
also has a contemporary look.
The XL comes with a wall wart type power supply and can also
conveniently be battery powered for portable use.
Out of the box the synth seems well built with its sleek looks.
The keyboard is an area where Korg say they have improved
on the original instrument, as the XL sports the new natural
touch keyboard which is indeed a breeze to play. Attention
to detail can be seen in features such as the fact that the
white keys are glossy whilst the black are matt as to differentiate.
The spacing of keys has also been optimized for playing of
Moving on, the sound engine under the hood now boasts Multi
Modelling Technology (MMT), as found on other Korg synths
such as the Radias and R3. This can faithfully recreate traditional
instruments such as acoustic piano, electric piano and clavinet
as well as a host of different classic synth sounds with based
around emulating different types of synthesis.
I must say that the latter are also realistic; owning vintage
FM and PD synths myself at least these types of sounds the
sounds compare very well with the originals.
128 sounds are provided and these can be selected using the
rotary dials for genre and instrument type.It is however difficult
to see the current position of the knob from above, as a marker
is only provided on the side not the top and one has to remember
the combination of genre, instrument and A/B for each sound.
I would have preferred numbered patches with name displayed
on the LCD (The original MicroKORG did not have an LCD display
only numbered patches). Thankfully however a favourite genre
is provided, where you can store your most used sounds. Three
performance edit knobs are also provided as toallow changes
to sounds on the fly.
names and other information are displayed on the orange backlit
panel which is adequate for the job unless in very bright
sunlight or an extreme angle.
sounds are complemented by seventeen KAOSS based effects which
can also be controlled directly from the front panel.
those who are more advanced, a free editor can be downloaded
from the Korg website to allow one deep edit the parameters
within the sounds provided as well as the global settings.
The software can also be used to back up the MicroKORG’s sounds
On to the most fun you can legally have with a synthesiser,
the XL also brings us a sixteen band vocoder, which can be
activated from the included gooseneck microphone or from an
external input. Many sounds can be made this way from synth-choirs,
through robot voices to talk-box type effects.
In a few minutes I was able to replicate my favourite vocoder
sounds with relative ease.
Connectivity is also covered well with the XL. The rear panel hosts the usual
connectors such as dual ¼” jacks for stereo out, as well as
one for headphones for silent practice. Another ¼” jack allows
an external line level equipment to be connected for processing
with the unit (a trim control is also provided). Midi in and
out is provided too for connections to other synths, as well
as a handy USB port for connecting to a PC, in order to use
the synth as a midi controller or to use the editor software.
summary, an outstanding synth, with many versatile features.
By Ernest H Slade
Demo 1 (Drums RB-338)
Mp3 Demo 2
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